Letters: Let’s lance the Indy boil with a fully informed vote – HeraldScotland

Posted: January 19, 2022 at 11:00 am

IT seems inevitable that Scotland will remain in political paralysis until the independence referendum boil is finally lanced with a rerun. It is crucial for that issue and more generally the electorate's trust in politicians that we can at least make an informed choice.

It is the unquestionable duty of politicians to make their proposals backed up by detailed evidence of how the thorny issues will be dealt with. On the Yes side those are the EU, economics, the currency and more. On the No side, what changes are on offer to preserve the Union devo max? Federalism? What's the difference? What does it mean? How will the Celtic nations cope with a south-east of England-dominated, dominant England?

At least a fully informed referendum decision will give us the faint hope of subsequently being able to vote meaningfully for better governance than we are getting from either Holyrood or Westminster now. We, the electorate, are not stupid and last time I checked it was still our country

John Murdoch, Innellan.

* ALASDAIR Galloway (Letters, January 13) asks why those of us who do not support Scottish independence do not place the same burden of proof on our case as we demand from nationalists.

The answer is quite simple: the nationalist proposal is a hypothetical projection, while the status quo is an observable reality. We can see and record what happens and what has happened in the UK as it is (warts and all), but it is up to the nationalists to show that independence would be better, and how that could come about. There is currently no proposal for independence on the table, so it is quite legitimate to ask for one so that it can be scrutinised accordingly.

He also asks why any future proposal that may be produced should be subject to a higher level of electoral approval than in 2014 or 2016. Obviously he sees the Brexit vote as great success, but I think we should look to other countries like the United States, where two-thirds is the required vote for constitutional amendments, or to Switzerland, where they require a majority of all cantons (a double majority.) A simple 50 per cent +1 victory does not fulfil the purpose of a referendum (that is, to settle a matter for a generation or longer) but makes underlying divisions more permanent and more bitter.

Mr Galloway cites domestic precedents in his defence of a simple majority in these matters. However, unIike him, I do not believe that the British way is always the best way of doing things, especially in constitutional matters.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.

NO MORE BRANCH MANAGERS

MARK Openshaw (Letters, January 13) details the many steps available in a free society to bring a recalcitrant politician to heel or justice, in this case the Prime Minister of the UK. This is true of all democracies which have evolved over hundreds of years. Democracy as we understand it today is underpinned by the rule of law and in Scotland the legal system can be traced back to the 12th century, perhaps slightly older than the English legal system. There are many countries able to trace their democratic roots back in time, although Mr Openshaw appears to allude to real democracy being the preserve of our islands.

If Scotland became independent, it is clear Mr Openshaw would not be supporting the SNP because of its omerta-like intolerance of internal dissent. I think the dictionary definition of omerta might be better applied to the governing party at Westminster with all its alleged dubious contracts to friends during the Covid crisis.

Mr Openshaw need not worry needlessly about who to vote for in an independent Scotland as he will be able to choose from a number of political parties. These are sure to include existing political parties now independent themselves. With the constitutional question having been settled, from a currently bare cupboard the Conservative and Labour parties might be able to come up with a policy or two which would benefit the new Scotland they might even get elected as the governing party.

No longer would the Tory leader in Scotland be regarded as a Tory lightweight by his betters in London or the Scottish Labour leader as a branch manager for a single MP sitting in London. Whats not to like?

Alan M Morris, Blanefield.

NATURAL REACTION TO EMPIRE BUILDERS

ALEXANDER R McKay's obsessive hatred of national independence (Letters, January 14) qualifies him to join the company of many celebrated figures from history.

The Romans viciously suppressed independence movements, the Habsburgs and the Romanovs were angered by them, Napoleon hated them and the British regarded them with indignation. The Ottomans failed to understand them and the Nazis ruthlessly attacked them in France, Belgium, Holland, Greece, Norway, Denmark and any of the other countries they invaded.

All these frenzied empire builders have been swept aside by history and independent nations have became the accepted normal.

As soon as people began to question the morality of empire building and international plundering, residual sympathisers went on the defensive and, by a spectacular inversion of the truth, condemned "nationalism" or "separatism" as the cause of all political problems. Any examination of history shows that, on the contrary, the pursuit of national independence is just a natural reaction to the arrogant greed of empire builders and conquerors. They all eventually discover its power but cause incalculable damage before they do.

Peter M Dryburgh, Edinburgh.

* REBECCA McQuillan ("Rees-Moggs disdain for Scots Tories shows they must break free", The Herald, January 14) displays the head-in-the-sand affliction widely demonstrated by journalists and commentators who do not seem to understand the difference between the terms nationalism and nationality.

She accepts the increasingly obvious fact that the UK Conservative Party is now an alien force in Scotland and that the Labour Party in Scotland is severely hampered by its stubborn unionist stance but continues to maintain that there is virtue in avoiding "separation" from England. Even if the bitter pill of Brexit were to be swallowed without complaint, federalism or devo max, both of which would continue to treat Scotland as a region rather than a nation, will never satisfy the aspirations of the emerging generation among which so many identify their nationality as Scottish rather than British; their voting choices are driven by nationality rather than nationalism.

I don't think I am better than any of my neighbours and don't want to be any more separated from them than at present but I don't want them to be in control of my home as well as their own.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.

DOUBLE STANDARDS FROM GOVE

MICHAEL Gove expresses laudable sentiments in Fridays Herald such as "government is a team event" and he boasts of new arrangements that "put mutual respect and collaboration at the heart of a new, mature partnership ("By working as a team across the UK we can overcome common challenges", The Herald, January 14).

What does he mean then when he contrasts the locations of London and Elgin and those who live there? Does ones location confer superiority? How can we level up if the really important place to be is London? Could it be that this mindset is so thoroughly ingrained, ministers dont even recognise it in themselves?

Doesnt bode well for the future.

Jane Guz, Dundee.

POVERTY MUST BE THE NEXT FIGHT

I SUGGEST that post-pandemic we will have an opportunity to raise our aspirations beyond a pitiful return to normal, a normal which fails to present a particularly hopeful future for so many, at home and abroad.

Is it realistic to hope that significant numbers within our society will recognise and condemn at long last the structural injustices of ultra-free markets in which only the prosperous and relatively prosperous can thrive while so many others struggle even to survive?

I am confident that the Labour Party will give the poor more hope of a much better normal than would the Conservative Party. I base my confidence on the following statement by Sir Keir Starmer: I have always been motivated by a burning desire to tackle inequality and injustice, to stand up for the powerless against the powerful. If I see something wrong or spot an injustice, I want to put it right. Can any reader imagine any Conservatives, other than the handful of remaining One Nation Conservatives, saying that since the advent of Margaret Thatcher 47 years ago?

Even during the Thatcherite-tinged New Labour years foreign aid was doubled and more than a million pensioners and more than a million children were lifted out of absolute poverty.

I await to hear the SNPs approach in its prospectus for an independent Scotland. How far down the social justice path would it wish to lead us? Can it demonstrate that the finances will allow it? Or would a Labour UK government and an enhanced devolution settlement be the answer?

John Milne, Uddingston.

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